(26 Aug 2011) Director Olivier Megaton
Writers Luc Besson and
Robert Mark Kamen
A drug dealer's
henchman who tries to get out of the business is gunned down in
his apartment, along with his wife, in front of their daughter,
Cataleya. A resourceful and intelligent child, she
not only stabs the drug dealer's right-hand man who is trying to
convince her to give up the memory chip her father gave her as
her "passport" in case he is killed, but she manages to escape
the gang of men trying to hunt her down after she makes a run
for it. She goes to the Embassy as instructed by her
father and uses the information on the chip as her 'passport' to the
United States, where she promptly loses her 'guardian', then makes
her way to Chicago where her uncle lives. All she is
interested in doing is plotting revenge. She grows up to
be an assassin. She not only takes contract hits, she is also
eliminating the drug dealer's army on the side, and leaving a
calling card. It takes the police a while to catch on,
but when they finally publish the 22 related hits she made with
the symbol of the Cataleya orchid she is named for, the drug
dealer realizes she is after him. She needs the help of the head
policeman on the case "Ross" to find out where the drug dealer
is (he has been moved to the U.S.). Once she knows, it
becomes a personal war and a great Action Movie.
To see a child running for her life, especially a very young
girl in a school uniform, catches in the throat a little. They
seemed to use the child actor most of the time and this helps
add to the emotion of the scene. Only once was it obvious
that they used a double and even so, it was about as close as I
can imagine them getting considering it must have been an adult.
The rooftop-to-rooftop shanty chase was similar to the recent
Fast Five chase, but it still held the audience. I
think it was just long enough.
The intensity of Cataleya's determination is remarkable. She
gets to Chicago and finds the remaining family she has: Her
uncle and her grandmother, who take her in. With what she's been
through, there is no 'normal' for Cataleya. When she tells
her uncle "I want to be a killer." it makes the movie.
He tries to get her to attend school but to say that it takes
some convincing is an understatement, and a scene that must be
seen in context to be fully appreciated (so I won't describe it
here—see the movie).
IN PLAIN SIGHT
We first see the grown-up version of Cataleya in character as a
drunk woman (a sort of disguise) who crashes her car into a
police patrol car. This lands her jail (intentionally) and she
waits for her chance to kill a witness. Hiding in plain
sight in a super-tight short dress and wig that is cut so that
the hair hangs down in her face, it's not until after she kills,
escapes, takes off the wig and changes her clothes, that we see
the child in the woman (when she dresses in this outfit at
left). They did a great job of casting.
From this point on, I had hope there
would not be any more objectification of her character.
As a woman, I am sick to death of the overuse and misuse of
sexuality when it comes to the portrayal of strong women in
Action Movies. However, in that first scene of
Cataleya as a woman, they obviously use it for a purpose. In her
pretense of being a drunken bimbo, she is dismissed as a threat.
So much so that the Police Chief Ross says "We're not
looking for a woman. It's not possible." Seems a ridiculous
thing for a career investigator to say, but a super powerful
message about how a woman dresses will cause her to be seen.
The objectification is excusable up to the point where she takes
off her bra before slipping on her 'catsuit'. Why does she
need to remove her bra?! So that the next scene can show
the side view of her breasts in a catsuit so form fitting
it seems painted on, and all the men get to see what her boobs
look like. This totally diminishes any power she
has. Why does the character have to be sexualized and
trivialized in this way!? Would they have a man (okay, well
Van Damme excluded) put on
skin-tight pants and then show the outline of his package so we
could see everything before he begins to fight? Would he
remove his underwear first? NO!
BEAUTY IS THE BEAST
Yes, Zoe Saldana is beautiful
and sexy. We get it. Clothes on, we still get it. This
movie is very female-form worshipping and it has nothing to do
with the story line whether she is beautiful and/or sexy or not.
When she gets back to her apartment and starts dancing?!?!
Then sucking on a lollipop? And the obligatory naked
shower scene—REALLY?! Is this so the men filming can watch
and jack off later? OH I CAN'T HELP IT!! It makes me
The first 'hit' by Cataleya shows many of
her skills, but mainly it shows she is lithe, limber, and
strong. Being thin helps in the places she has to go on
this hit, and
being strong helps with the things she has to do to escape. It
does give a good excuse for her to
wear a catsuit, but I was really glad it wasn't in every scene, or necessary that she be practically naked all
LOVE, AND REVENGE
Once we get to know Cataleya a little, we
see she has a boyfriend. She comes and goes from his
apartment with a key. The relationship turns out to be
mainly sexual, and although it seems like love, she won't share her story.
In my experience, people who have been deeply hurt, don't like to 'feel', and
until Cataleya can exorcise her demons, she really can't commit
to anyone, including family. She is so consumed by
revenge, she never stopped to think of the danger she would be
putting her uncle and grandmother in, until it's too late.
Even when confronted with this by her Uncle when he finds out
about her side killings, she is in denial. I think her sexuality
shows her passion. She probably has only two outlets for her
rage: killing and control. Once her boyfriend breaks
through to her a little, he tells her, apparently for the first
time, to let him make love to her. That it was always the
other way around with her as the aggressor is very telling.
Being in control sexually, and in killing, masks and medicates her inability to
control that her parents were killed. The movie is
simplistic in the veracity and ferociousness of its emotions,
making it a powerfully moving ride that you feel is going a
little too fast, and which you can't get off of. Like Cataleya, you have to see it through until the end. And
what an ending!
Once she crashes the gate in the
armored car, it's a full-blown Action Movie. Up to that point it was
more of a
drama, although all that drama informs the ending. Despite
the fact that you know what the movie is about and where it's
headed, the suspense (and acting) is great. After her
photo is found and the FBI are on their way to her apartment, I
got goosebumps from her sense of panic.
Thankfully (!) she dresses
appropriately for the all-out attack at the end (pictured at
left). Her degree of preparation is flawless (something is
too often clearly not thought through in action movie plots). She has been
waiting for this day her whole life and nothing is going
to get in her way. True to great Action Movie form, she
can't get it too easily, however, and seeing her work for it is
something to behold. She kicks ass. Size does not
matter here, not for the character (or the actress). Bravo to
her and to the filmmakers!
In the final showdown, they pull out
all the stops on her skill levels: She is great in the hand-to-hand combat
scene with the towel. Love that this Megaton/Besson team
utilizes props like so many Asian films (it reminded me so much
of the awesome fights in
The Transporter) The stunt work
was done by:
stunt driver (What a career he's had! He worked on True Lies, Con Air, Passenger 57, Transporter 2, Bad Boys,
and Bad Boys II just to name a few.)
fight coordinator, stunt coordinator (Transporter 3), and
KUDOS TO THEM!
Despite her feminine and very slender
frame, Zoe does a convincing job of using a wide variety of
weapons. This picture should give you all the reason you
need to see the film. Comparing her size to the weapon, and
knowing that she handles it like it's second nature, it's an
all-out-Oh-My-God moment to see her kick into action when they
come for her. And this is nothing compared to when she
comes for them.
Below are just a few more of the
weapons she uses. (Thanks
to IMFDB for the complete list).
M4A1 Carbine . . .
IMFDB: Cataleya "uses
SIG SG 551
fitted with a quad rail, foregrip, and Aimpoint sight as her
primary weapon during the final shootout." [This is a
wicked-ass powerful gun!]
And showing they have a sense of humor,
IMFDB writes: "Cataleya
when her apartment is raided [also shown in the first
picture above], and later uses it as a long-range interrogation
COLOMBiANA is definitely a
movie to own!